Preoccupied with Promise–Bible Study Review

“Preoccupied with Promise is a 6-week Bible study, teaching that if your mind has the capacity to be preoccupied with problems, then it can be preoccupied with promise.”

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When I read that tag line, my heart declared, “YES!” Days before I received an email from a dear college and heart friend, Courtney, about launching her new study, I was sitting down with a sister over dark chocolate and hot tea, discussing how important it is to rid our minds of lies and replace them with the truth of God’s word. Such a wonderful and biblical concept and yet so very difficult in practice. An all-out battle. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this study and dive into John 4.

Courtney invites us to sit and gaze upon the story of the woman at the well as she encounters Jesus for the very first time. A story many believers are familiar with but have never deeply examined before. As we listen in on their conversation, hear her questions and witness their interactions, we learn more about what could be possible if we would truly come to know and believe Christ is who He says He is.

Know.

I wanted to really meditate on John 4 as I was walking through PWP. And as I did, I noticed how often the words “know”, “knew”, and “believe” are used. It was evident this encounter was focused on what the woman didn’t know before Christ (yet thought she did) and what she did know after she met her life-giving Savior.

“Yes, we live in the era of unveiled reality. Unlike the Samaritan woman, we know the wonder that was hidden from her for a moment. But do we live like we know? Is there more we could fully know?” (p14)

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We learn from the Samaritan woman’s experience that knowing Christ and being known by Him changes things. Big time. That idea resonated with me. If only I truly believed how perfectly known I am by my El Roi–The God Who Sees. Can you imagine what our lives might look like?

But how do we get there? How can we start seeing and living in the eternal, the supernatural? How can we begin to live in the freedom Christ has offered us?

I love how Courtney has written this study as if she’s chatting with us over coffee, walking us through Scripture, counseling us according to God’s word. She helps us to take the woman at the well as a kind of case study, to track the thoughts that have led to her beliefs. Then we get to do that for ourselves–discover what lies we are feasting on and replace them with promises of God. This aspect was so beneficial for me. I needed to get to the root of my emotions and once again believe God at His word.

This study would be perfect for a mentor and mentee–an older woman in the faith guiding a younger in faith as she seeks to meditate on truth. A small group of ladies would also benefit greatly.

If you find yourself stuck in the muck of discouragement, fear, or loneliness. If you long to truly know this Christ you’ve been hearing about. Get this study. Ask a woman to walk through the weeks with you.

Visit www.randallhouse.com to order your copy today. I’d love to hear how God grows you through this study, and I know Courtney would as well. You can find her at the study’s website: www.preoccupiedwithpromise.com.

Our prayer is that God would shatter the doors of bronze in our hearts and cut in two the bars of iron (Psalm 107:16)! That the patterns of our thoughts would be uprooted and beauty would once again grow wildly! For our joy and His glory.

 

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To the Pastor’s Wife

I was asked to write a letter of encouragement to a friend who is just stepping into the role of lead pastor’s wife. I feel as if I could pen an entire book of how I’ve failed, what I’ve learned, scriptures that I’ve clung to. But I haven’t been in this ball game that long. What would I say? As I have been praying over what the Lord would have me include in the letter, I’ve felt the tug to share this here.

I’ve come to believe over the years that our role is just as important as our husband’s. No, we don’t always counsel as much, study as much or attend as many conferences. But we are called to be helpers. And I mean that in the warrior, “khayil”, understanding of the term. We are called to nurture, to fight for our husbands. We’re called to care for the shepherd’s soul that is watching over many souls. What an “in” Satan could have if he could thwart, twist, discourage, embitter that crucial part of our husband’s leadership. It’s an all-out war, sisters.  I have watched his tactics first-hand and seen him tear down a people brick by brick, beginning with the wife of the pastor. But rather than letting that frighten or discourage you, I hope you’ll don your armor, pick up that Sword, and get ready to fight on your knees.

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  1. Pray against resentment. When we first stepped into ministry, Nathan being away helping the church brought me great joy. There was a shine to it all. I enjoyed taking care of things at home so he could serve well, lead well. He has always been cautious to balance home and church to the best of his ability. But then resentment began creeping in. I let thoughts, lies, take over. Believing he didn’t care as much about us. Believing we weren’t his first priority. Believing my role was little and insignificant in comparison. Resentment breeds division, anger, and bitterness. Pray against this. (I Corinthians 13:4-7)
  2. Pray against isolation. Many advised me that I would always be an outsider. I would always feel like I lived in a glass house, never able to confide in a sister in our church family. Never able to be open, honest, vulnerable. That is filth. Find your people. You need them just as much as they need you. Seek out heart friends. Find someone who can pray for you and you for them. Pray for a mentor. If you find yourself trying to avoid all church functions, something is wrong. Talk with your husband. Let the church love on you and care for you. (Hebrews 10:25)
  3. Pray against sexual immorality. This might seem like a shocker, like this is beneath you. But none of us is beyond any sin. Pray for and continually pursue intimacy with your husband. Run, flee, from any hint of sexual immorality: books, television shows, situations that could make you vulnerable. Be on guard and seek to be filled with first the love of your Father and content with the husband He has gifted you. (Ephesians 5:3)
  4. Pray for your marriage. For strength to love sacrificially. For a desire to fight to protect your time together and your unity. Pray for a marriage that reflects the love of the Savior for His Church. For a joyful submission to your husband’s leadership. For a willingness to seek counsel when you find yourself stuck in the same cycle of conflict. (Ephesians 5:22-33)
  5. Pray for joy. Yes, ministry can be hard. There are days when you learn things about people that disappoint you deeply. When you weep for your brothers and sisters as you carry their burdens. However, the joy of the Lord is rich and constant and contagious. There is great joy in His presence. Joy in His word. A joy that doesn’t depend on our circumstances or waiver with time. (Philippians 4:4)
  6. Pray for a mind fixated on truth. I believe our greatest battleground is our mind. We must, MUST, be daily in God’s word and in prayer. Throwing out lies and putting in truth. Meditating on it, chewing on it, believing it. Allowing Scripture to pierce, convict, encourage and train us. (Philippians 4:8, Hebrews 4:12)
  7. Pray for a true love for the Church. These people are your forever family. Pray for a heart that sees past the actions to the heart. Pray for eyes of compassion. Eyes that our Shepherd sees through. Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her. Pray for the Spirit to work within you to create that same love and desire for sacrifice. He is able. So able. (Ephesians 5:25)

Sister, you are seen, you are known, you are loved by an Almighty God who has called you to this and will equip you for the task ahead. Most people will never understand all the work you do. And there’s a sweet beauty in that. Only being seen by your God. Cling to your Rock of Ages. He is so good and so faithful and His Church is a gift to you as you are to them.

The Difficult Beauty of Hormones

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Picture 23-year-old me. Out of college, freshly married, living happily overseas with my new pastor husband. I walk up to one of my first women’s conferences. Most of my life has been youth retreats and college worship services up to this point. I’m just now joining the world of women’s ministry.

I step through the door to hear the chatter of ladies–melodious giggles and high-pitched, joyous conversations. Hugs and small talk and gentle touches. I smell the rich coffee and see the table of decadent pastries and fruits. I’m given my bedazzled goodie bag and the schedule for the day. I take my seat with some ladies I know from our church and glance over the breakout session options. “Women and Hormones”. What in the world? No thanks. Next option? I don’t remember which session I chose that day, but I distinctly recall how ridiculous I felt that one session was. Why would they offer that? To my absolute surprise, that was the greatest attended of all the breakouts.

Now, almost ten years later, I totally understand why.

I’ve never felt as completely out of control as I have during pregnancy, nursing, and the aftermath of birthing children. So many tears, anger, rage, keep-you-up-through-the-night energy and complete exhaustion. Anxiety, depression, excitement and joy. Hair growing like crazy and wads falling out in the shower. Dry skin, wrinkles, heart racing and hot flashes. The roller coaster of hormones.

I’d love to attend that breakout session now.

I’ve done a whole lot of talking and thinking about hormones since that day. I’ve come to believe some things.

  1. They were created for good. You see, hormones help us to fulfill our helper design. They aide in giving us the mothering nature that sets us apart from men. We can understand, empathize, care for, nurture. We feel for others in deep ways.
  2. Yet, so often since the fall, they bring great pain, grief and questioning. Hormones can take us on a wild ride of emotions, attitudes, and actions where we feel totally out of control and helpless.
  3. The beauty of this? It reminds us of our utter dependence upon Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit within. We can’t work ourselves out of this tendency to anger or doubt or overeat. Oh, but Christ’s blood was enough. And as believers, the Holy Spirit’s work within is greater than any chemistry moving through our veins. He is greater than our hormones.
  4. It’s one more reason to love the sisterhood. We get each other. We know the struggles, the joys, the ups and downs. We totally mesh with the crying for no apparent reason, and we’ll pull you in tight if you’re feeling like a hug. (Or a pat on the hand will do if it’s one of those days). We can pray from a heart that understands.
  5. Yet, so often, we neglect to care for those who are in the trenches of the struggle. It’s just too much to be around. And, if it’s us, we isolate ourselves because we might be seen as weak, depressed, and overwhelmed by emotion. Oh, sweet sister, you know what I’ve learned most from my study of Jesus and His interaction with women? Compassion. Care. Understanding. Reception. Many of the women featured in the gospels were filled with emotion when they met Jesus: sorrow, thankfulness, anger, despair filled their hearts. Jesus turned none away. He welcomed their sensitivity, their true state. He will welcome you as well. Run into His arms. And be His hands and His feet to your struggling sister. It can make the world of difference.

Today, I’d invite you to that conference. And when the time came, I’d take your arm, and we’d run into that breakout session. While we waited for the other hundreds of ladies to file in, I’d share my story of the ups and downs and the way it has brought me to my knees. We’d laugh at how our men don’t get it. How we tend to baffle and scare them at times. And how that’s totally okay. You’d hand me a tissue, and remind me of Jesus’ love for me, and we’d pray together. Filled with weakness, joy, and the strength of our Father. Hormonal sisterhood at its finest.

When You Need to Recharge

“Powdery shades of blues, greys, whites stretch across a softly glowing sky. Moss drips from the river-fed trees hovering over the calm waters. Squirrels, geese, vultures, crickets and cicadas declare the day’s end and the arrival of the night. Families stroll with no hurry to destination, for, it’s summer. Conversations, laughter, gracious touches. The hustle dies. The stress is put away–forgotten for a few months. Now we really see those sunsets. We slow to enjoy the watermelon-drenched chins and the gentle descent of the sunlight. It’s a warming of body, mind and spirit.”

I had to pause to sense that all. I needed to get away to see it, feel it, smell it, experience it. I love life with my people. That handsome man of mine and our beautiful children. But just over a year ago, I learned something about myself. In order for me to recharge, a few hours alone here and there wasn’t going to cut it. It took me nearly that entire time just to stop thinking about everything I needed to get done. To leave home behind. So we decided I’d take fewer but longer trips away. By myself. To sleep, read, write, rest, be quiet. Do whatever I needed to do to come back and love my tribe well.

There’s this new term of “self-care” going around. I haven’t read a lot about it, but it seems to be this idea of caring for oneself well so we can care for others. I’m totally on board with that. I see the importance of taking care of our bodies, minds, and spirits. Not neglecting it as we care for those around us. My breaks are really that in essence. But I also feel this idea of “self-care” is being used in a way to justify indulgence. I “deserve” a massage, pedicure, shopping spree, vacation….I “need” this to be the best mom/friend/wife/employee. And that’s where I’d totally disagree. A dear friend of mine pointed out how much Jesus gave and gave and gave. We know through the Bible that He did take the time to rest and be restored. But Jesus recharged by drawing away and spending time with His Father.

If you are burnt out. If you are weary. If you are overwhelmed with life, the most fulfilling thing you can do is be in the presence of your Almighty Creator. Read His word. Be with His people. Pray. Meditate on truth. Take your focus back to the eternal. He alone can give you living water. He alone can satisfy your weary soul. Maybe you need to get away to do that, in some form or fashion. And if there happens to be an opportunity to save up and get your nails done, praise God for that. But remember, He, Himself, is more than enough. More than enough.

All that said, I thought I’d take you on a little walk through what my breaks look like. These times away are precious to me. Your restoration might not look like mine. But I’d encourage you to discover what best refreshes you.


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I wanted to be immersed in nature. Art at its most glorious. This was the view from my balcony. We had a free hotel stay, and I was so thankful to use it. The trees, the water, the blue skies and white clouds, birds singing.

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A place to read and write. I prepared my lesson for Sunday, journaled, continued reading in a couple of books, and walked through a devotional study here.

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I watched every minute of that sunset. Just me and a park bench. I read and wrote a little, but I mostly just watched and listened. Ducks, geese, cicadas, crickets, deer, children, live music.

Candles. Smells really impact my time. I purchased some soy candles with essential oils and enjoyed the feeling of home away from home.

Order. My days feel chaotic most of the time. I slowed to unpack, even though I was only staying a night. I hung up clothing, set out my shoes, put away my other items in drawers.

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. Rather than sleeping in, I set my alarm for before the sunrise. Even though it was cloudy, I was up to witness it. I found a small diner in town that was cheap and delicious. I greatly enjoyed the conversations I had with the owner and my waitress. For lunch, I found a cozy Italian deli that was bright and inviting and had a view to the outside patio area. I ate slowly and enjoyed every bite.

I wrapped up my time journaling to my kids while drinking a rich and steamy cup of coffee. It was all pretty perfect, actually. God paved the way, and my husband helped it happen.

I didn’t “need” any of this. God has been so faithful to help me thrive right smack in the middle of crazy and hard and mundane. But I sure will praise Him for providing it. And I hope I look more like Him as a result of soaking up His creation, His people, and His presence.

I’m Done Chasing

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I push the home button twice, then the passcode to unlock. I click on the email app for the fifth time in the past 15 minutes. Nothing new. Click home again. Then Facebook. Just a party invite and page update. I close my phone.

Browse through my recent photos. Anything worth posting?

I walk to the pantry. Mmm dark chocolate. Then the fridge. Iced coffee? Ooooh that’d be fun.

I see the Bible opened on my counter. I glance over at it. “…he will quiet you by His love.”

I pick up my phone. I’ll check on my sisters. Message an acquaintance I dreamed about last night. Thank a friend for her card in the mail.

Dinner. Ugh, nothing sounds good. I’ve got to find some new recipes. I love cooking. But it takes so much effort to find something everyone can eat and will eat. Maybe we’ll go out some place I like. Ugh. Eating out budget is gone. But this is desperate. I can’t handle being home anymore. Maybe I’ll just splurge.

Pick up my phone again. “Free kids meals in Austin.”


It’s constant. The now is never enough. My heart is always beating quickly. Always looking to the next big thing. A fun meal, a new piece of clothing, a way to serve, a sweet card, a new outing, a surprise phone call, an encouraging word, a fancy drink…

It’s never enough.

And I’m worn out.

“…he will quiet you by His love.”

Oh, Jesus, I need that quieting. I long to be satisfied with what you have given me. So freely. So lasting. So much deeper than all this I’m chasing after. I want you to be enough. I’m tired of chasing. I’m weary of overspending and overeating and overphoning to satiate my soul.

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.”


Are you weary, too, friend? Do you consistently busy yourself, looking for the next thing that might satisfy? If it’s not God, it will never last. If it’s not His grace, it will never set you free. If it’s not His love, it will always disappoint.

So what do we do then? Where do we go from here?

We start by running to the cross. Laying this discontentment before Him. Asking, pleading, that we might see His presence as enough.

And then we choose. We choose time with Him. Time in His word. And we choose in grace. Knowing we’ll mess up. Knowing we’ll run back into the arms of the cheap lovers that promise fulfillment. But also knowing that when we return to our Father in true repentance, He will receive us back with open arms.

Will you give up the chase with me today? I want to be done. And I want my Jesus.

When You Can’t Fix. Walk.

I watch the anger boiling in him. The hurt and fear in his eyes. He can’t contain the rage. He doesn’t even know why he does it in the moment.

“It feels good, Mom. I like hurting people right then. And then I feel bad.”

Tears stream down his face.

I don’t remember struggling with anger until college. It seemed to come out of nowhere then. It had always scared me in other people. Like they couldn’t control themselves. I could almost always find the good, even in the seemingly terrible. I could overcome my thoughts so my feelings didn’t explode. But then, my sophomore year of college came. And this person coming out of me was wretched. I wasn’t that perfect Christian anymore. I felt out of control and completely helpless.

That’s when I really learned about grace. It was the first time I bone-deep knew I needed a Savior. I needed Him to rescue me from me. He had. He did.

“O, Baby. I know that struggle. Sin feels good in the moment. Seems so enjoyable. But it separates us from God. I’m thankful you feel bad about it afterward. That’s God grace. He loves you so much. He can forgive you and help you overcome this sin by the blood of Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”

I reach my end with him. I see my rage coming out in response to his violent temper. I see the victims. My gut reaction is to care more about correcting his actions than caring for his heart. For so long, I thought if I would make sure to do a, b and c as a parent, I would produce children who loved to obey. Who immediately saw the error of their ways and never messed up in that area again. So when I did those things, and my kids still struggled, struggled big time, of course I had to question where I went wrong. I need to give them more time, more affection. I need to be more intentional about walking through the Bible with them and responding to every mistake with Scripture. I need to gently respond and shepherd their hearts and cut out sugar and cover them in oils and…………

I can’t fix him.

With each new day of parenting comes this realization. I can’t fix my children. Just because I do a, b and c and totally rock at it does not mean my kids will be better. And, praise God, just because I totally suck at parenting does not mean my kids will grow up to be immersed in sin and despise their Creator.

It’s all about walking with them.

Through the punches and tantrums and “I hate you’s”. Through the lies and piles of candy wrappers and permanent marker on the bedspread. Through the anger and rage and violence.

Walking with them. All the while, showing them I need a Savior just as much as they do. He’s my hope. His grace is what saved me from me.

Tomorrow might be just as tough as today. I pray fervently that my son might experience the freedom I know and I have found. But I’m trusting God’s timing. I’m trusting the story He’s penning. That boy hears the gospel more often than anyone else I know. I can’t open his eyes. I can’t take away his anger. I can’t fix his heart. Oh, but my God can. Hand in hand, walking with my son every step of the way.

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Ode to 303 E. Kolstad

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We moved in this home as a family of six more than thrilled to each have a space.

There were four flights of stairs, a parlor with chairs, porch swings and dining room lace.

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My excitement, it grew, with the attic anew, my corner room and a landing to rest.

We’d peer out that glass, watch the neighbors that’d pass, as we pretended to be fancy in jest.

 

One year brought a brother, our Caleb none other, and with him came joy and delight.

We’d sing him his songs and throw footballs out long, chase him and squeeze him tight.

 

Summers were splattered wIMG_3674ith pool time and chatter, fire flies and parties and fun.

Late nights of giggles, performances, popsicles, girlfriends and Herschel’s and sun.

 

 

Then school days would come, but the party not done, boys would “wrap” us as we watched them with glee.

Week nights we studied, dance practice with buddies, and cheer jumps perfected by D.

 

Rocks on our windows, first kisses, Nintendo, Jessie and Kelly and Zack.

IMG_3576Pies to our neighbors, baby Jesus in the manger, birthday parties and adventures out back.

There were tears on the stairs, the curling of hair, glitter spray, makeup and phone calls.

ICQ in the nights, picnic blankets and kites, lip syncs while dishes stacked the walls.

 

Of course there was hard, the hormones they starred, and life wasn’t always this pretty.

But I’ll glory in the laughter, in the hugs that came after the fights and the harsh with no pity.IMG_3563

 

303 may have changed, but the memories remain, and they’ll linger forever in our hearts.

So to you, Old Sweet Blue, we celebrate you and say thanks for the years of our start.

 

*Photos courtesy of AlexM Photography